New Year's Resolution

A New Years Resolution: More Bands Should Play Earlier on Friday Nights

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

If I had one wish for 2011 it would be for bands to play earlier in the evening on weekends, but especially on Friday nights.

Yes, college kids work late, and yes, most of them don’t go out until 11pm, but what about the rest of the people around town? Why is the selection so small for those of us that can’t wait until 11pm to start enjoying live music?

You can go to Thirsty Pagan for great music at 6pm, but the venue is so small that anything beyond a few musicians will make you deaf. The Fractals are amazing, as are Stel and Lefty, but why not somewhere in Duluth?

Sure you can go and listen to jazz with a small, cheap martini at Black Water. The only problem is that the song “The Girl From Ipomoea” got old when my dad was a kid. It also reminds me too much of The Fabulous Baker Boys with dark lighting and a dress code.

The Brewhouse has music a bit earlier in the night, but it is more of a dinner crowd at that time. Many great bands play there, my only issue is that it can be too intimate of an atmosphere for some types of music.

We need more shows at 7 or 8 pm on Friday nights.

The strangest shows are when the headliner begins playing at 12:30 or 1 am. Being last sometimes can be the worst slot in my view.

Maybe the Nor Shor when it reopens will have larger acts play the stage at 8 or 9pm on a Friday?

The big thing (as I get older) is to go out on Friday night after work and enjoy a happy hour with friends. What else I have noticed is that some great bars have excellent drink specials, but then their appetizers make people choose other places.

Then there are places that have great appetizers, but their drinks are expensive… Or they are expensive all the way around and just use the label “happy hour” as an excuse to get you in the door. My bills recently after Blackwater, Fitger’s, and Sara’s Table’s happy hours were fairly high after visiting with friends. There was nothing happy about those hours once the check came.

Grandma’s Saloon from 3-6 with half price on every single thing in the bar is a great deal. The bartender Erik makes a chocolate martini that takes your senses to a whole new level. Whenever a newcomer is out with my wife and me, they laugh at such a “girly” martini, but then they ask for a sip. After it hits their lips they immediately apologize and order their own. Even the patrons who are sitting by me and watching it get made ask what it is and eventually order one. Sometimes it’s a tourist, but they always leave happy and rave about the drink. Erik is often voted as a top local bartender, and at happy hour prices no one can beat his top shelf martini.

The only problem with Grandma’s is that everyone I drag there complains about the limited selection of happy hour appetizers. Erik said that being around so long that Grandma’s serves what the customers’ want.

Green Mill’s happy hour runs until 7pm. Their spinach dip, boneless Jim Bean chicken wings, or other $5 appetizers mix well with their beer specials. Black Woods has a very popular happy hour and great $5 appetizers like Thai flatbread pizza.

The Reef Bar pulls out Pizza on Friday evenings, The North Pole has a raffle around 8pm with certain rules that is great fun, and many places around town give limited specials.

The problem is that when 7 or 8 pm hits the options are limited for music. The Zinema 2 has beer to go along with indie films, but what about live music? What about big concerts with lots of people at a normal time like other cities?

As for the music of 2010, I was hooked on LMFAO’s “Shots” from the Anchor’s juke box, “I’m In Miami B&$%h” by LMAFO, “I’m Awesome” by Spose, “Uprising” by Muse, “Jawbreaker” by The Dead Weather, “True Religion” by The Little Black Books, and “Flashing Lights” by Kanye West.